Brian McDermott’s “100% Commitment to Leeds” Puts the Onus on GFH to Back Their Man – by Rob Atkinson


Brian - Aiming High at Leeds United

Brian – Aiming High at Leeds United

This week’s speculation, in the wake of Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni’s sacking, that Leeds United boss Brian McDermott might be the anointed replacement, could so easily have turned into a lengthy “will he, won’t he” saga. Quite possibly, this might have ended in more grief and disillusionment for Leeds and its fans, who have been through this sort of thing before. What actually happened was that Brian used the earliest possible opportunity, his pre-match press conference ahead of the Bolton fixture this weekend, to confirm his 100% commitment to the Leeds United cause, his appreciation of the relationship he enjoys with the fans and his acute awareness and pride that he’s in charge of one of English football’s true giants. Carlsberg don’t do affirmations of faith, but if they did….

There is absolutely no reason to doubt one iota of McDermott’s sincerity in anything he said at that press conference. He went beyond the strict dictates of frankness by acknowledging that yes, he would love one day to be Ireland manager. He has always, he admitted, regretted his decision to align himself with England as a player. His family connections to the Emerald Isle are strong; you get the distinct impression that, if he were not already committed heart and soul to the restoration of Leeds to the game’s Top table, Brian McDermott would be quite willing, eager and even able to swim the Irish Sea in order to secure the honour of being Republic manager. But Brian is so committed; indeed, heart and soul would seem to be a masterly understatement of the depth of that commitment. This confirmation that he’s at Elland Road to do a job, along with his earlier, only half-joking, thanks to Reading FC for sacking him and thus affording him the chance to reign at Leeds, sends out a massively positive message to all with a love of Yorkshire’s sole giant. At last we have a man who talks the talk, seems equipped to walk the walk, and will not be deflected even by the call of his lifelong ambition. It was a banquet of a press conference for Leeds fans, a veritable feast of reassurance.

But after the feast comes the reckoning – and Brian has not been slow to nail down the advantage his stated position has given him. This is not to say that, Rooney style, he’s seeking further to enhance his own remuneration on the back of turning down overtures from elsewhere. Instead, he’s been swift to speak out in the press and beseech the ongoing support of owners GFH. Brian’s version of putting the squeeze on is strictly altruistic, totally dedicated to securing the tools he needs to tackle the job in hand. He doesn’t want a cushier position, he just wants to be able to look at the possibilities – currently limited to the loan market – and shop around with an unerring eye for a player or two and the enhancement of his squad the only objective in mind.

GFH must be well aware of the extreme impracticality of keeping a want-away manager against his will. Contracts, in those situations, are about as much use as a penalty spot in the Man U 18-yard area. The fact of the matter is that, had McDermott wanted to head off to Ireland to take up any offer made to him, then he would almost certainly have been able to do so. It would simply have been a matter of haggling over compensation, a scenario that’s been played over time and time again as managers and players theoretically tied down to a deal basically proceed to do as they like. That Brian McDermott has chosen to stick to his current task, running the possible risk of losing any chance of fulfilling his heart’s desire in the future, speaks volumes for the man and for his honesty. GFH should be looking at the leader they’ve got at the helm, and asking themselves what possible excuse there could be for failing to stretch a point or two, for failing to make the effort to dig down the back of the settee and find a few bob to fund his recruitment drive. Principles like “shipping one out before you can bring one in” are all very well when you’re talking to an accountant, but not likely to cut much ice with the Leeds support, who see their manager nobly keeping his mind on the job – and who will want to see him given every chance of succeeding.

Brian McDermott has played this very, very well indeed – which is not to say he is being sly or exploitative. He’s simply made his mind up to succeed at Leeds, and has made his position clear: that he expects everybody to pull together in achieving that end. Strong as his position at Elland Road may have been a week ago, it is now very much stronger; the Leeds owners would do well to respect that, respect their manager’s professional judgement – and dig deep for victory.

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10 responses to “Brian McDermott’s “100% Commitment to Leeds” Puts the Onus on GFH to Back Their Man – by Rob Atkinson

  1. it a coup for MD..I Thought that he would tell them to show some Finances or expect him to exit soon as the next offer comes up.
    I thought that the 3 Year plan by the GFH Was an Insult to Leeds’s fans and to Bryan himself..he did not come to Leeds to wait 3 years to get Promotion..Now,GFH,Listen to the fans..10 Years is a very long time and another three years is another Nightmare…a club like leeds need someone with realistic ambitions and not someone who see it as just a business idea. Leeds utd need someone with the Minimum of a10 million to spend. don’t they get it,if Leeds make it to the premier league they will get over 50 million

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  2. I do not believe in money as such but what comes to man-management skills they are out of this world. PL was spoiled in 1995 (Sir Jack Walker) when Blackburn won it with Shearer assistance. Today we have a different animal that is plastic clubs in PL. do they have Academies in par with ours? Tare

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  3. Rob Austin

    The best article I’ve read in a very long time. BMCD is becoming a legend.

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  4. I think you got it the wrong way round. The “onus” was very much on BM to make a clarifying statement at GFH’s insistence, an astute gamble by GFH which paid off for all.

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    • Interesting interpretation, though not one I can take on board without a fuller explanation of just why you would think that.

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      • Well If he was intending to go, he would have gone.
        GFH issuing what was basically an immediate ultimatum had nothing to lose and everything to gain (which has been proved). an exercise in brilliant business!

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      • I think GFH had everything to lose. Yet another managerial change after the turmoil of the past few years is something they need like the proverbial hole in the head – and if Brian had gone questions would have been asked about the constraints he’s working under at Leeds, and how the conditions of the job differed to what he’d been led to expect on taking it. The PR triumph here is 100% McDermott’s and GFH must be aware that they have a very popular manager on their hands, someone it’s difficult and even dangerous to keep on saying “No” to.

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  5. Good assessment Rob … I have posted many times that Brian McDermott is the best signing that LUFC have made in many a long year, and to date he has justified that signing with everything he says and does. The meaning of transparent management takes on a new meaning under his stewardship, he is open, honest, committed and takes loyalty to a new level in football circles. GFH must recognise this loyalty and commitment and back him to the hilt, not solely in money terms, though I do think this will come, if not now, at the end of the season when they have more room for manoeuvre as the impact of the legacy of the Ken Bates / Neil Warnock era lessens.

    However, I also think that all of us, as supporters, have also to do our bit to support him and the 18 players he picks as his match-day squad, where possible, by attending Elland Road whenever it’s financially possible. The better the support he gets from us all … the more difficult it becomes for him to walk away.

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  6. I for one am pleased BM has said he is comitted to Leeds, that said the job was always Martin o Neil’s to turn down ! BM’s statements speak volumes more in what he hasn’t said than what he actually has said ! There is no doubt in my mind the job he has is not the same one sold to him before he joined! Even the untrained eye will till you we are short of several players if we are to make any impression on this league! The bit that confuses me is we have off loaded several wages, kisnorbo , bromby, Connolly , somma and the comedy goal keeper! So surely there must be money for some quality loan players to make an impression? I guess they aren’t famaliar with the phrase speculate to accumulate in Dubai !

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  7. Good entrepeneurs sometimes have everything to lose.

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